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When you write, you have three personalities, all equally important: the Creator, the Developer, and the Critic.

The Creator and the Developer can sometimes collaborate, and the Developer and the Critic might work together. But the Creator and the Critic? Never. The Critic will always stomp on the Creator. Allowed to act prematurely, the Critic will prevent you from finishing the damn book.

I heard this explanation of the writing process during a class led by a fiction writer at the Indiana University Writers’ Conference more than 10 years ago. It is just as true now as it was then. And this process can apply to any creative work.

So I am a big believer in shoddy first drafts, where the Creator gets free reign. This is not the time to worry if the novel is any good. That comes later, before you put it in front of critique groups and then send it to agents.

When my elder granddaughter was 2, she taught me an important lesson: creativity is messy. When she pretended with Barbies, painted with watercolors, or molded play dough, she did it for the sheer joy of creating. She didn’t worry about neatness.

So my fellow writers, release out the inner 2-year-old on your first draft. Play. Make a mess. Enjoy yourself. Grownups can wait for second and subsequent drafts.

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